Recently, I spoke to a room full of high school students on the topic of “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Among the advice that I gave them, I offered this nugget of truth: “Don’t just drift through life. Live intentionally and on purpose.” I believe that is one of the most important lessons that a person can learn – and the sooner we get it, the better.
Living a simple life certainly requires intentionality. In a world that is hectic, busy, and hurried, simplicity is not. In a culture that encourages selfishness and excess, minimalism does not. And in a society that is rushing to gain more, satisfaction with less is counter-cultural.
To live an intentional life, we must begin by laying a proper foundation and then add practical steps on top of it.
First, Lay the Foundation.
- Realize that your life is made up of choices. Every morning is a new day full of decisions and opportunity. You get to pick your attitude and your decisions. You don’t have to let the circumstances of your past negatively determine the pattern of your life in the future. You have a choice in the matter. You do not need to be stuck in the same pattern of living that you have been for years… realize that every morning is a new opportunity.
- Evaluate the culture that you’re swimming in. Life is not lived in a vacuum. It is lived surrounded by a culture that is moving somewhere. This culture around us forms a swift downstream current. Living an intentional life will require you to take a step back and evaluate the flow of the stream to determine where it is headed, how it is affecting you, and if it is taking you in a direction you desire.
- Examine yourself. Know who you are. Get a strong handle on your passions, talents, abilities, and weaknesses. Give precious time and energy to this endeavor. It is one of the most valuable things you can do.
Second, Add Practical Steps.
- Decide to live your life. Stop comparing yourself to others. You were not born to live their life. There is no sense wasting yours being jealous of theirs. Instead, you were born to live your life - determine today to be good at it. After all, you only get one shot.
- Define a purpose. Identify what you want your life to communicate and contribute. Find a passion to live for that is bigger than yourself. Write it down. It will bring new meaning to your life. It will wake you from the slow death of only living for yourself.
- Set goals. Goals move us and goals shape us. Set goals that are directly in line with your defined purpose. By their very nature, they will introduce intentionality into your life.
- Stay focused. We live in a world of constant connectivity and distraction that is begging for our attention nearly every moment of the day. Learn to turn off the distraction and live your life instead. Turn off the tv and don’t read gossip magazines. Remove nonessential physical belongings that are robbing you of time and energy that could be better spent living intentionally.
- Learn from others. Successful people are curious people. They possess the humility to learn from others. Identify people accomplishing your purpose and goals. Then, study them and learn from them.
The worst thing you could ever waste is your life. Instead, commit yourself to live intentionally and on purpose.